Sir Richard Branson, British business mogul and entrepreneur, has spoken out in favor of vaccination. In a blog posted today on his website, which was also shared on Twitter, he wrote that vaccines, not blockages, are the way out of the corona bog. Branson argued for “sensitive” practices, like mask warrants and proof of vaccination, instead of travel bans and expensive testing.
Branson’s words seemed to come from a deep feeling. He wrote that he had lost his mother to COVID-19, and he is also concerned about the mental health effects of virus-related blockages on the younger generation. Branson cited an Australian study on the high costs of blockages to mental health. In addition, he expressed concern about the inherent inequity in the distribution of vaccines among the wealthiest populations and people living in low-income countries.
Emotion aside, Branson pointed to the economic losses associated with repeated blockages. As the owner of Virgin Group Ltd., which owns 51% of Virgin Atlantic Airlines, he has been hit hard by the fallout from travel bans and blockages. Branson was widely criticized at the start of Corona for asking airline staff to take 8 weeks of unpaid leave. Then, in May 2020, the airline laid off 3,000 workers. More recently, earlier this month, Branson, with Delta (DAL), another Virgin Atlantic owner, injected the equivalent of more than $ 500 million into the airline in an attempt to save it from the latest wave of lockdowns.
Additionally, Branson sold three slices of his shares in Virgin Galactic (SPCE) since May 2020, each time in order to free up money to support other companies, including Virgin Atlantic, of which it is a stakeholder. Meanwhile, Virgin Galactic, which is a subsidiary of Virgin Atlantic, has seen its inventory plummet from its pristine flight into space. The stock is now down more than 75% from its high of around $ 60 a share.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.